Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - July to September 2014


ENDS Europe DAILY - 22 September 2014

Global greenhouse gas emissions are likely to grow by 2.5% this year, up from 2.3% last year, according to the annual Global Carbon Budget report on historical and future emissions.

Total annual emissions are now two thirds higher than in 1990, the base year for the Kyoto Protocol, the scientists led by the University of East Anglia's Corinne Le Qur said.

The EU offshores a third of its emissions by importing carbon-intensive goods, the scientists found. This is likely to undermine its domestic emissions reduction efforts, which accounted for a 1.8% fall in emissions last year.

Emissions from China, accounting for 28% globally, grew by 4.2% in 2013. China's emissions per capita now outstrip those of the EU. More than half of all fossil fuel reserves still remaining must be left in the ground to keep global warming below 2C the scientists concluded.

For a good chance of staying within 2C, emissions can only continue at the current rate for 30 years, meaning "there is just one generation before the safeguards to a 2C limit may be breached". To keep temperature rise below 2C, sharp annual global emissions reductions of at least 5% will be needed for several decades.


mronetwork online - 25 September 2014

The era of cheap air travel must end if the airline industry is to cap its greenhouse gas emissions, a new study has found. The research indicates that unless plane ticket prices rise by at least 1.4% a year, efforts to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be outweighed by the growth in passengers.

The cost of air travel has become 1.3 per cent cheaper a year on average since 1979 - a long-term trend that must be reversed, according to the University of Southampton study which was published in the journal Atmospheric Environment in August. Even if the aviation industry invests heavily in more efficient technology and introduces lower-carbon fuels, growth in demand for flights is likely to surpass improvements in fuel efficiency. To meet its pledge for 'carbon-neutral growth by 2020', the industry would have to discourage passenger growth by making flying more expensive.

"There is little doubt that increasing demand for air travel will continue for the foreseeable future," said the study's co-author Professor John Preston. "As a result, civil aviation is going to become an increasingly significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions."

Annual passengers growth would need to be halved from 4.8 per cent to 2.4 per cent a year to cap emissions at the level projected for 2020. It was calculated that the ticket price increase necessary to lower demand would value carbon emissions at up to 100 times the current price.

"This would translate to a yearly 1.4% increase on ticket prices, breaking the trend of increasingly lower airfares," said study co-author Matt Grote. "The price of domestic tickets has dropped by 1.3% a year between 1979 and 2012, and international fares have fallen by 0.5% a year between 1990 and 2012."

But the study's authors accept that moves to curb demand by increasing fares would be resisted by consumers. They also suggest that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) 'lacks the legal authority to force compliance'. The report concluded that 'there is an urgent requirement for a global regulator with teeth to be established.'

Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at T&E, said: "This is further hard evidence that the aviation industry is on an unsustainable course. Tickets are getting progressively cheaper, traffic continues to grow yet resistance to pricing aviation carbon meaningfully remains entrenched. On top of all this the sector clings to a raft of special privileges; no fuel tax or VAT and burgeoning state aid. When will governments understand this cannot continue?"

Aviation is the most carbon-intensive transport mode, responsible for about 5% of global man-made climate change. If it were a country, aviation would be ranked 7th in the world for CO2 emissions. EU aviation emissions, a third of global totals, have doubled since 1990 and will triple by 2050 if unchecked. Last year, ICAO, agreed to 'develop' a global measure for 2020 to reduce airlines' CO2 emissions, with the details to be agreed by its next assembly in 2016.


Sarah-Jayne Russell from UN Summit on Climate Change - 29 September 2014

The global aviation sector cannot cut carbon emissions without support from governments and world leaders are failing to take action, according to Willie Walsh.

The chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG) made an impassioned call for assistance at the UN summit on climate change held in New York last week. Walsh argued that while the aviation sector was taking responsibility for its emissions - citing the goal to halve carbon emissions by 2050 - it had few practical means of advancing carbon cuts without assistance. Governments must, for example, take the lead in creating a global cap and trade scheme, he argued.

"There has been a great deal of talk on climate change, but too little action in areas that could really make a difference. It's time for governments to get serious," said Walsh. "Airlines cannot enforce a global system on their own. Only governments can do that through international agreement. That is the essential precondition for us to make real progress."

Walsh also called for authorities to provide incentives for aviation firms to invest in developing sustainable biofuels. "We are not asking for special treatment, just parity with other sectors. Many countries have introduced such programmes for road transport - why not for aviation?" he asked.

IAG's British Airways is, of course, one airline investing in sustainable jet fuels; working with Solena Fuels to build a facility to convert landfill waste into jet fuel in the UK. Meanwhile, other airlines are examining biofuels. Lufthansa is working with Total to test Farnesan which is a sugar-based kerosene, South African Airways and SkyNRG are collaborating on a sustainable aviation fuel made from a hybrid tobacco plant and Southwest Airlines is set to use fuel created from waste woodland material from 2016.

While Walsh's desire for greater financial support from governments is understandable, it seems that airlines are already shouldering that burden, and MPs are unlikely to be convinced to part with cash when they can see another avenue.

The good news for those that are working to trial these new products is that the risk should be rewarded with cost savings as they are at the forefront of technology that should see them less impacted by oil prices.

Walsh is right about the emissions trading system, however. It could provide an excellent level playing field for the sector to work together to drive down emissions, but it cannot be done without government backing. Imagine a system that didn't include operators based in Brazil, China or the UAE? It would be worse than useless.

Sadly, global negotiations - particularly when it comes to climate change action - haven't been known for their success. Walsh will have to keep his fingers crossed.


Matt Grote, Ian Williamsa, John Prestona - Paper from the Faculty of Engineering
and the Environment at University of Southampton 2014

"International air transport has helped bring our world closer together... Yet, these advances have not been without cost. Looking forward, we must ensure that international aviation is as energy-efficient as possible and minimizes harmful impacts on our climate and ecosystems" - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Abstract of Paper
Global airlines consume over 5 million barrels of oil per day, and the resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by aircraft engines is of concern. This article provides a contemporary review of the literature associated with the measures available to the civil aviation industry for mitigating CO2 emissions from aircraft. The measures are addressed under two categories - policy and legal-related measures, and technological and operational measures. Results of the review are used to develop several insights into the challenges faced.

The analysis shows that forecasts for strong growth in air-traffic will result in civil aviation becoming an increasingly significant contributor to anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Some mitigation-measures can be left to market-forces as the key-driver for implementation because they directly reduce airlines' fuel consumption, and their impact on reducing fuel-costs will be welcomed by the industry. Other mitigation-measures cannot be left to market-forces. Speed of implementation and stringency of these measures will not be satisfactorily resolved unattended, and the current global regulatory-framework does not provide the necessary strength of stewardship. A global regulator with 'teeth' needs to be established, but investing such a body with the appropriate level of authority requires securing an international agreement which history would suggest is going to be very difficult.

If all mitigation-measures are successfully implemented, it is still likely that traffic growth-rates will continue to out-pace emissions reduction-rates. Therefore, to achieve an overall reduction in CO2 emissions, behaviour change will be necessary to reduce demand for air-travel. However, reducing demand will be strongly resisted by all stakeholders in the industry; and the ticket price-increases necessary to induce the required reduction in traffic growth-rates place a monetary-value on CO2 emissions of approximately 7 to 100 times greater than other common valuations. It is clear that, whilst aviation must remain one piece of the transport-jigsaw, environmentally a global regulator with 'teeth' is urgently required.


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 2 September 2014

STANSTED Airport bosses have set out their vision for expansion to up to 45m passengers a year - as plans for an island airport in the Thames Estuary finally sank.

Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of the Airports Commission, has confirmed that cost, logistics and environmental issues made the plan unviable. The scheme was the brainchild of Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and had the backing of Uttlesford's MP Sir Alan Haselhurst. In an announcement on Stansted's future today (Tuesday, September 2) Manchester Airports Group (MAG) made it clear the Uttlesford hub can go a long way to solve the country's aviation capacity crisis. It currently handles around 18m passengers every year.

The new draft Sustainable Development Plan highlights:
* New routes and increased frequencies to drive growth and enable doubling of passenger numbers to 40m to 45m per year on single runway;
* Growth achievable within agreed noise and air quality limits and existing boundary;
* Existing capacity has the potential to support an extra 10,000 on-site jobs and generate 4.6bn in additional economic benefit;
* Key enabler of growth in the London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor and east London.

Stansted's important role has already been recognised by the Airports Commission, and the plan will help inform its final recommendations to Government on the contribution that its existing 35m passengers per annum planning permission will make to meeting demand over the next 10 to 15 years.

The plan, now open for consultation, establishes a framework for responsible and sustainable growth at Stansted, and demonstrates the airport's ability to grow to handle 40 to 45m passengers a year within agreed environmental limits and without the need for additional airport land. Making use of existing capacity will generate an extra 10,000 on-site jobs and 4.6 billion in additional economic activity, and act as a "key enabler for economic development in the thriving London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor and east London".

The airport will be holding a series of public exhibitions in local towns and villages during September and October. Those with an interest in the airport's future are being encouraged to visit an exhibition to hear more about the plans and give their views.

Managing director Andrew Harrison said: "Stansted's potential for sustainable growth will be of enormous value as the UK strives to develop its global connectivity to support increased trade and investment, and these issues will be central to the Airports Commission's work as it develops its final recommendations to Government. This plan highlights the vital role that the existing capacity of Stansted's single runway will play over the next 10 to 15 years in meeting these challenges, showing how the airport can more than double the number of passengers it serves and provide greater choice and variety for passengers."

"The airport's prime location at the heart of the London-Stansted-Cambridge economic corridor means we will see a significant increase in demand at Stansted over the coming years, driven by strong economic activity across the region. The plan establishes a framework for that growth to the capacity of our existing runway, supported by commitments on the way we will work closely and openly with our local communities to strike the right balance between the benefits and impacts of having Stansted on their doorstep."

"Making effective use of the runway will not only create an additional 10,000 on-site jobs and potentially generate 4.6 billion in economic benefits but it will also support the rapid growth of the dynamic corridor - already generating over 160 billion for the UK economy - plus the fast development and strategic importance of the East London economy."

"We strongly believe Stansted can increase international connectivity in the most sustainable, responsible and cost effective way possible. For example, our plan shows how we could operate within the agreed air quality and noise limits of our current planning permissions while at the same time making more effective use of existing capacity."

"We are now consulting so that we can take account of the views and ideas of those with an interest in how Stansted grows to make the best possible use of its existing capacity. This will help us in preparing the final version of our plan later this year and I would encourage as many people as possible to share their thoughts during this process."

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, said: "Stansted is a very different airport with very different ambitions under the ownership of MAG. The airport has untapped potential and spare capacity so it's vital to make full and efficient use of the existing infrastructure to provide more growth opportunities and greater value to airlines and consumers at a time when runway capacity is becoming ever more constrained in the south east of England."

Sophie Dekkers, UK director for easyJet, added: "Aviation plays a vital role in supporting the UK's economy and connecting British businesses and people with the rest of the world. Over the next few decades there will be demand for new aviation capacity in the South East. easyJet strongly believes that existing aviation capacity in the south east of England must be fully utilised. We welcome London Stansted's growth plans which show that Stansted can play an important role in providing significant additional capacity in the short to medium term."

Richard Currie, UPS public affairs director, said: "Air freight is a UK success story integral to economic growth. Stansted's role should not be underestimated as a key export hub which connects UK businesses to Europe and the rest of the world. It is vital that Stansted continues to be backed as an economic asset over the next decade."

Cllr David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, commented: "A strong Essex economy needs sensible growth at Stansted to provide for more inward investment and to create jobs and business and leisure opportunities. I'm delighted that Stansted shares the big ambitions of a big county, and I will support work to tell the world how good we are and how much better we can be. I pledge Essex County Council's partnership to improving our road and rail infrastructure helping people get to and from the airport quicker and more efficiently."

David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: "Stansted is a major asset to the economy of the East of England and Essex, particularly in terms of attracting inward investment to the UK along with visitors from overseas. It has planning permission to handle 35m passengers a year but could handle up to 45m without the need to construct an additional runway or make any major changes to existing airport infrastructure. It is already well known for low cost carriers but has real opportunities to add additional destinations and airlines and develop long-haul services. Essex Chambers of Commerce very much support MAG in these aspirations which bring with them the opportunities to create additional economic growth, 10,000 jobs and 2 billion GVA for the benefit of not just Essex but the rest of the East of England and the UK general."

Consultation runs until November 7. Dates and locations for the public exhibitions, including details on how the public can take part, are available by visiting: www.stanstedairport.com/developmentplan. The final version of the plan is expected to be published in late 2014.

OUR COMMENT: Those living round the airport will be relieved at the decision to remain a one runway airport. However, the effects of the expansion of traffic from 18mppa to 45mppa (well over the permitted 35mppa) plus additional cargo planes needs more detailed analysis before it can be claimed to be "sustainable" or practicable.

Pat Dale


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 9 September 2014

STANSTED Airport bosses must provide "a proper contribution" to transport facilities before the Uttlesford hub is allowed to more than double in size.

That is the demand from Herts County Council this week as it welcomed a debate on Manchester Airports Group's (MAG) draft Sustainable Development Plan (SDP), setting out how full use of the existing single runway could be achieved, beyond the current 35m passengers a year planning permission.

In the report published last week for consultation, MAG suggests the runway could cope with up to 45m travellers every 12 months, without the need for additional land. The airport is currently operating with around 18m passengers a year, but could exceed its current capacity within a decade. The plan will inform the government's Airports Commission, which will be making recommendations to Government on where to maximise capacity in the UK over the coming decades.

Cllr Richard Thake, Herts County Council cabinet member for community safety and planning, said: "Herts County Council welcomes this consultation as a first step in generating a debate around how the airport can grow in a more sustainable way, using the existing single runway. Communities, businesses and local authorities will need to be convinced that going beyond the existing cap on passengers using the airport can be achieved in a way which addresses potentially adverse results."

"As well as minimising the impact on communities and the environment, any changes need to maximise economic benefits in the area. There will need to be a proper contribution to the provision of supporting infrastructure, particularly transport. Assurances on all of these matters must be secured during the preparation of the Sustainable Development Plan, so that it provides a robust basis for any future planning permission sought by the airport's owners. I would urge everyone in Herts and beyond with an interest in the airport to engage in this consultation and make their views known by the November deadline."

Stop Stansted Expansion has made a preliminary response to the draft, arguing it is premature to debate development over 35m passengers per annum. SSE spokesman Brian Ross added: "SSE would like to see a gradual phasing out of night flights at Stansted and this issue will be high on our agenda in the consultation on the SDP. Stansted Airport continues to own about 270 properties around the airport - acquired in connection with the now-aborted second runway plans. We would like to see these returned to private ownership."


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 13 September 2014

STOP Stansted Expansion (SSE) claimed today (Monday, September 15) that proposed changes to the airport's departure routes will not give "any net benefit for local residents in terms of reducing the overall noise impact".

NATS, the UK's leading provider of air traffic management (ATM) services, handling 2.1m flights in 2012-13, wants to switch daytime flights from the existing south-east (Dover) departure routes to the existing east (Clacton) departure routes. SSE warns this would double the number of daytime flights on the Clacton route and quadruple the number if Stansted were to expand to its maximum permitted capacity.

More people would be overflown more intensively on the Clacton route (2,400) compared to those who would benefit from reduced flights on the Dover route (1,470). And people living under the Dover route would not benefit from any reduction of overflying at night.

SSE claims the NATS proposal would also intensify air traffic in the proximity of Hatfield Forest, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the UK's best remaining example of a medieval royal hunting forest. Hatfield Forest currently has over 400,000 visitors a year.

SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: "SSE is not convinced that this NATS proposal strikes a fair balance of noise reduction benefits for local communities near Stansted. We have therefore recommended that the proposed changes should - at the very least - be postponed until they can be assessed in the context of the much more significant airspace redesign planned for 2018-19."

He said significant changes to Stansted's airspace were likely to come in the next airspace review phase scheduled for 2018-19. Additionally, the Government is expected to decide next year on a further runway in the South East.

Mr Sanders said these developments are anticipated to involve "a significant redesign of Stansted routes for which no information has been made available and this present proposal cannot be assessed in the context of this subsequent significant redesign".

The Government says that noise is the primary concern for local communities near airports and that the benefits of noise reduction should be shared between the aviation industry and local communities. There are always winners and losers when flight paths are changed, but according to SSE this particular proposal would overall have an adverse noise impact upon the local community living within 20 miles of the airport.


BBC News - 1 September 2014

A plan for an island airport in the Thames estuary will be rejected, the BBC understands. In response, an advisor to London mayor Boris Johnson, Daniel Moylan, said if true, it is "sadly short-sighted".

Known as "Boris Island" because of Mr Johnson's backing, it was one option being considered by the Airports Commission on how to expand airport capacity in the UK. An official announcement is expected on Tuesday.

"Airports policy has been stalled for nearly five decades, ricocheting like a billiard ball between Heathrow and Gatwick," said Mr Moylan. He added that the final decision would rest with the government. "The key question now is whether the Airports Commission will play much of a role," he added.

The commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, was set up by the government to consider ways of expanding the UK's airport capacity. Its final report is expected next summer.

Earlier, the Financial Times reported that Whitehall sources had confirmed the "Boris island" plan would be ruled out. The decision to eliminate Boris Island as an option would leave the commission with three alternatives: Adding a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, and a new runway at Gatwick.


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 18 August 2014

STOP Stansted Expansion (SSE) has sounded a note of caution over proposed changes to aircraft departure routes from the Uttlesford hub and questioned some of NATS' claims supporting the switch.

The air traffic control body wants to transfer much day-time traffic from the existing south-east (Dover) flight path to the existing east (Clacton) route. NATS says that the proposed change would result in reduced CO2 emissions and fewer delays for Stansted and other airports, but SSE has calculated that the reduction in CO2 emissions would be less than 1% and an even smaller percentage if long haul routes came to Stansted.

For delays, NATS' performance in 2012 was the best on record with Air Traffic Control (ATC) delays averaging just 1.6 seconds per flight. Traffic on the Clacton route would double if the switch goes ahead and according to NATS' figures, for local communities living around the airport, 1,470 fewer people would be overflown at all, but 2,400 people would be overflown more often.

SSE points out that the proposal would bring more traffic closer to the southern boundary of Hatfield Forest - a National Trust property and a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the UK's best remaining medieval royal hunting forest.

NATS says that the driver for change is network performance and to avoid Heathrow traffic congestion. This currently keeps Stansted's southbound Dover traffic lower in the south of Essex, the Thames Estuary and sometimes well into Kent.

SSE also draws attention to the fact that significant changes to Stansted's airspace are likely to come in the next airspace review phase scheduled for 2018/19. Additionally the Government is expected to decide next year on a further runway in the South East. These developments are anticipated to involve a significant redesign of Stansted routes including improved noise reduction procedures such as Continuous Descent Approach.

SSE urged caution when this NATS consultation was launched in mid-June and said that there must be clear and compelling benefits for local residents before any changes are implemented. Peter Sanders, SSE's chairman, says "SSE is not convinced that these conditions have been met and we recommend that NATS' proposed changes should be postponed until they can be assessed in the context of the much more significant airspace redesign planned by NATS for 2018/19."

The consultation closes on September 8.

A New "Sustainable" Plan for Stansted Airport?


Eleanor Busby - Cambridge News - 29 July 2014

Anti-expansion campaigners are hopeful that a new long-term development plan for Stansted Airport will include just one runway in its agenda. Manchester Airports Group (MAG), owners of Stansted Airport, is expected to publish its Sustainable Development Plan (SDP) for the hub early next week.

The plan, which will set out what it will do in the next 20 to 25 years, will initially be published as a draft for consultation and a final version is expected towards the end of the year.

Peter Sanders, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) chairman, said there should be "considerable scope" for dialogue "provided it respects all the current planning limits and confirms MAG's commitment to Stansted continuing to be an 'airport in the countryside'. SSE will also be pressing for an end to night flights for those living around the airport and beneath its flight paths where "ambient noise levels are low".

A Stansted Airport spokesman said: "We will shortly launch a period of consultation with local communities and key stakeholders on our Sustainable Development Plan to consider the benefits and effects of how the airport might develop to make full use of the existing runway and look forward to that period of engagement to help us inform our plans."

As SSE continues to call for a single runway, a new public attitudes survey published by the Department for Transport, carried out by the Office for National Statistics, has found that 57 per cent of the British public believe new terminals and runways should be built to boost the economy.


Sinead Holland ? Herts & Essex Observer - 4 August 2014

STAFF at Stansted have been asked to volunteer for redundancy as owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) looks to cut 100 posts in the terminal and airside.

One worried employee contacted the Observer to complain that bosses seemed to be trying to hush up the job losses while boasting about growth in passenger numbers and investment in new facilities. MAG has also revealed a healthy balance sheet and this week it is expected to release a document detailing its expansion vision for the next 20 to 25 years.

The staff member, who asked not to be named, said: "Publicly MAG is saying things couldn't be better, but people should know what's going on behind the scenes. We're worried that if they don't get enough volunteers for redundancy there will be forced job losses." Workers have until Thursday (August 7) to consider their position.

Daniel Gallo, Stansted Airport's human resources director, said: "MAG acquired Stansted with a plan to make it the best airport in London and maximise its full potential. After taking ownership it became apparent that shift and roster patterns did not support the demand of the operation, particularly during peak periods, and so through close engagement with our trade union colleagues set about reviewing options."

"We have worked in collaboration with our trade unions and colleagues throughout this process to look at more efficient ways of providing front-line services and make the airport attractive for growth. These discussions have been positive and given us the opportunity to ask for expressions of interest for voluntary redundancy across some departments, which has been well received. There will be no forced job losses and we are working closely with individual colleagues affected by these changes to help manage the transition and provide support and advice to those involved in the process."

OUR COMMENT: Any "sustainable" Plan for the future of the airport should also offer reliable and regular employment for those working at the airport, which already has permission for a considerable increase in the number of additional passengers allowed to use the one runway.

Pat Dale


Government response comes seven months after
Airports Commission report first published

Nick Collins, Transport Correspondent - Daily Telegraph - 15 July 2014

Business leaders have accused ministers of "ducking" important airport capacity issues after key decisions on early morning flights and noise monitoring were deferred until after the next election.

A series of recommendations on making the best use of existing capacity was made in an interim report produced by Sir Howard Davies's Airports Commission in December.

The advice was designed to improve the efficiency of the UK's airports in the short and medium term, while the commission continues to consider the case for an extra runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow. But in its official response on Tuesday the Government announced that a number of the proposals would not even be considered until the Commission has published its final recommendations on the best long-term solution next year.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, was also accused of failing to explicitly acknowledge the need for additional airport capacity in the south east. It means decisions on the appointment of an independent aviation noise ombudsman and trials of new flight schedules featuring more early arrivals will be made by a new government next summer, while there was no mention at all of other recommendations such as improved surface access to Stansted.

Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of the London First group of business leaders, said the lack of action could be put down to the electoral calendar. "I think it is manifestly ducking a whole set of things that could have been addressed and the entire business community has to stand around and hope that, come the next election and the next government, that at last someone will come in and get a grip on this," she told The Telegraph.

"The premise on the timing for the entire Davies Commission [is] that it is too difficult a decision for politicians to take a side or view on ahead of the election," she added. "One would have just hoped there would have been some sign of progress in the interim."

Mr McLoughlin said the Department for Transport had made progress since December on a number of the Airports Commission's recommendations, including the provision of 50 million for better rail access to Gatwick Airport. He also said a senior industry group had been set up to deliver an "optimisation strategy" for managing airspace at congested airports which will deliver more than 150 million of benefits to the aviation industry and environment annually by 2020.

But decisions on other key recommendations, including trials at Heathrow of a "smoothing" system which would reduce morning delays by allowing more flights to land between 5am and 6am, were deferred until the final recommendations on long term capacity had been made.

"The government is conscious of the potential concerns of those living near the sites that have been shortlisted for future runway development," he said. "However, the government is also mindful that introducing inappropriate measures too early has the potential to increase uncertainty and create other negative outcomes."

Gavin Hayes, director of the LET Britain Fly organisation, said: "Instead of bold political leadership, the Government has decided to kick the can down the road for another year. We so desperately need a clear direction of travel and an in-principle commitment to build additional runways to boost our international connectivity and secure future jobs, growth and prosperity. Instead, we have yet more political procrastination."

Ministers had already been heavily criticised for taking more than six months to respond to the Airports Commission's report, with critics claiming this weekend that the delay "looks like wavering".

David Sleath, chief executive of SEGRO, said: "In the global economic race Britain's competitiveness depends on our international connectivity. In order to maintain the trust and confidence of the business community we need the Government to be bold and respond to the Airports Commission's interim report recommendations by agreeing in principle to build at least one new runway, it is therefore regrettable that we do not have this in principle commitment."

OUR COMMENT: "No Action" is better than taking the wrong decision!

Pat Dale


Press Association - TheCourier Online - 14 July 2014

Plans to expand UK airport capacity are "based on a wing and a prayer" and "not rooted in the real world" according to two reports from environmental groups.

The organisations challenge the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission's claim that it is possible to build a new runway and still meet the Government's climate change targets. They also argue that building a new runway in the south east would worsen the north/south divide, as growth at the regional airports would need to be constrained in order to ensure CO2 emissions from aviation fall to their 2005 levels by 2050.

The groups say that if aviation emissions were allowed to soar it would impose costs on the rest of the economy rising to between 1 billion and 8.4 billion per year or more by 2050 as non-aviation sectors would need to make even deeper emissions cuts.

The two reports have been released by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), nature charity the WWF and by Aviation Environment Federation (AEF).

The Airports Commission is considering just where airport expansion should go ahead and will publish its final report in summer 2015. One of the reports out today, from the RSPB, said the commission had assumed that climate change targets could be met as aviation emissions will be constrained by regulatory measures. But the report found that the regulatory regime is still aspirational - or is so weak as to be ineffective. It argues "We are therefore basing our decision to build a new runway on a world as we would like it to be - rather than as it currently exists."

The report concludes that, in order to comply with the Climate Change Act, the only options are to manage future demand by increasing the cost of carbon which would see fares soar to unrealistically high levels or constrain capacity at airports by ruling out any new runways.

The groups said that the second report, from the Aviation Environment Federation and commissioned by WWF-UK, showed that it was impossible to build an additional runway in south east England and keep aviation emissions consistent with meeting UK climate targets, without cutting airport capacity elsewhere.

In practice, this could mean that many regional airports would need either to be closed or limited to operating fewer flights than today's levels, the groups said. They added that this would conflict with both Government and commercial forecasts, which anticipate at least 200% growth by 2050, and also exacerbate the north/south divide.

RSPB's economist Adam Dutton, the author of his group's report, said: "The rest of the economy will be heavily penalised if emissions from aviation are not constrained."

AEF deputy director and report author Cait Hewitt said: "The commission and future governments have a choice to make: either allow aviation expansion in the south east and heavily constrain regional airports or let regional airports grow within the capacity they already have but don't build any new runways. But climate change limits mean that you can't do both."

Jean Leston, head of transport at WWF-UK, said: "Thinking that you can build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick while still keeping to UK climate targets is being over-optimistic and using assumptions that are based on a wing and a prayer, not on the real world. When it comes to airport expansion, climate change isn't 'dealt with' as an issue."


Will Mann - NCE Online - 14 July 2014

Plans for the Thames Estuary airport have been dealt another blow after three new reports said costs are likely to soar by billions of pounds above previous estimates.

The Airports Commission had ordered four feasibility studies of the airport, championed by London Mayor Boris Johnson. The first of these, which looked at environmental impacts and was published last week, indicated the costs of wildlife relocation costs alone may be 2bn. The other three look at: surface access; socio-economic impacts; and operational feasibility and attitudes to moving to an estuary airport - dubbed 'Boris Island'.

The reports suggest Johnson has considerably underestimated the infrastructure costs of an estuary airport and overestimated the benefits. The transport access study by Jacobs said the bill for new road and rail links could be more than double previous predictions.

The Mayor's 2013 estimate claimed road links would cost up to 10.1bn and rail links a further 13.5bn. The Jacobs report indicated these costs would leap to 17bn and 27bn respectively.

Leigh Fisher's report on operational feasibility highlighted the risks posed by the wreck of a Second World War munitions ship five miles from the airport site. It said the SS Richard Montgomery, still holding 1,500 tons of TNT, may have to be made safe or removed.

PricewaterhouseCoopers examined socio-economic impacts. It said Heathrow would have to be closed for a new hub airport in the Thames to open, which could mean paying 21.5bn in compensation to the west London airport's owners.

The feasibility studies can be viewed in full here.


Philip Stephens - Financial Times - 5 July 2014

Genius. Absolute genius. Stranded again at London's Heathrow airport, I suddenly grasped the power of public relations. Heathrow may be one of the world's worst as well as busiest airports, but its operator Heathrow Airport Holdings and lead airline British Airways have unearthed the philosopher's stone. They have turned their manifest failings into a potentially golden asset.

The delay on the BA service to Rome from Terminal 5 was only a couple of hours (something to do with the weather, though, to my eyes, the sky was cloudless and the sun shining). Sensibly, I was carrying only hand baggage. Those connecting from the US arrived in the Italian capital both late for supper and without a change of clothes. I learnt long ago not to entrust BA with my personal belongings.

It was the half-apology offered by a hapless employee that revealed the vaulting bravado of airport operator and airline. Yes, the baggage system was in meltdown and, yes, flight delays were nowadays the norm. The two companies, though, were blameless. The problem was that Heathrow was overcrowded. If the government gave the go-ahead for expansion - specifically a third runway ? all would be well. Try that again: the only way to improve the dismal lot of passengers is guarantee Heathrow still higher profits. As I said, brilliant!

Some might quibble. Would not things improve if HAH put a bit more effort and money into making life comfortable for travellers? What about investing in half-decent waiting areas, working travelators and additional aircraft stands instead of cramming in money-spinning retail concessions? As for BA, why not modernise its ageing fleet and try to ensure its flights occasionally take off and land on time?

Why should they? Heathrow dominates London's air traffic and the two companies have a quasi-monopoly. They are extracting large rents. This is how monopolists behave, the more so when overseen by a weak regulator. Most importantly, a half-decent level of passenger service would be counter-productive because it would undercut the case for that third runway.

The decision on new airport capacity in London is supposed to await publication after the 2015 election of an independent review by a commission headed by Howard Davies. On the face of things, the arguments against Heathrow are compelling. It is in the wrong side of the capital, with noisy, dirty aircraft flying in and out over the most densely populated areas of the city. Another runway would pile misery upon environmental misery on millions of residents.

The economic case for a so-called mega-hub is undermined by HAH's own figures and by advances in aviation technology. Heathrow admits that less than a third of its customers are the business travellers said to be vital to the regional economy. The rest are tourists, many of whom could quite happily travel from one of London's three other airports. Transfer passengers account for less than 40 per cent of Heathrow's traffic. They make money for HAH, but London's gain is minimal. A new generation of fuel-efficient, sub-jumbo aircraft anyway heralds a shift towards more point-to-point journeys, undercutting the case for big hubs.

Logic argues either for a new airport in the Thames Estuary or, more likely, for expansion of Gatwick, to the south of the capital. Under relatively new ownership, customer service at London's second airport already puts Heathrow to shame. A new runway at Gatwick would be cheaper and quicker to build and could be accompanied by additional flights from the underused Stansted to the north. HAH and BA will tell you there are a dozen reasons why this would not work. What they mean is that competition would put a dent in their profits.

As bad as it is at running an airport, HAH, with BA in its slipstream, has put serious money into the Heathrow public relations campaign. It has much of the business community on its side, and senior politicians have been reluctant to line up against it. The aim has been to create a sense of inevitability about the outcome of the Davies report. So far the strategy seems to be working.

Maybe common sense will eventually prevail. Expansion of Heathrow would be madness. On the other hand, here is a sobering thought for the millions of passengers caught up in the traditional summer chaos at Heathrow: the more miserable your experience, the more likely those responsible will win a promise of still higher profits.


Government has also postponed its decision on creating an
independent aircraft noise regulator until at least next summer

Robert Cumber - GetWestLondon Online - 15 July 2014

Plans to more than double the number of night flights at Heathrow from next year were today shelved by the Government. The number of planes allowed to land at the airport before 6am each day would have increased from 16 to 35 from next year, under proposals outlined in the Airport Commission's interim report in December.

In return, residents living under the flight paths would have been guaranteed respite from early morning arrivals, with a different runway used each week. However, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin today announced he would wait for the commission's final recommendations next summer before deciding whether to introduce the measure, known as 'smoothing'.

He also postponed decisions on creating an independent aircraft noise regulator and allowing both runways to be used simultaneously for arrivals to reduce delays, both of which were recommended in the commission's interim report.

In his response to the interim report, published this morning, Mr McLoughlin said: "In relation to the commission's recommendation for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority, the government believes that it would be more appropriate to consider the role for such a body alongside the commission?s final recommendations on long term capacity. Similarly, we believe that any further government decisions on using the runway designated for departures (eg enhanced TEAM) and for a trial of early morning schedule smoothing at Heathrow should also be considered at that point and in the context of the commission's recommendations on long-term capacity."

Gavin Hayes, director of pro-expansion campaign group Let Britain Fly, was not impressed by Mr McLoughlin's response. "Instead of bold political leadership, the Government has decided to kick the can down the road for another year," he said. "We so desperately need a clear direction of travel and an in-principle commitment to build additional runways to boost our international connectivity and secure future jobs, growth and prosperity. Instead, we have yet more political procrastination."

The Airports Commission was set up by the Government in 2012 to consider the case for aviation expansion in the short, medium and long term. It has short-listed two sets of plans for a third runway at Heathrow and one for a new landing strip at Heathrow, and is due to decide this autumn whether to short-list proposals for a new Thames estuary airport. The commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is due to make its final recommendation next summer, shortly after the general election.


Euractive Online - 14 July 2014

New rules on aviation noise that are due to take hold across the European Union in 2016 fall short of what is needed to protect people living near airports, the leader of a leading civil action groups says.

The EU's new regulation calls for creating a "balanced approach" to noise reduction, by encouraging the use of quieter aircraft, improving land-use planning around airfields, imposing quieter airport ground operations and - in extreme cases - limiting overnight flights.

But those who are fighting to reduce the racket at one of the world's busiest airports - London's Heathrow - say the regulation offers little relief. The law lacks binding noise reduction rules, they say, a criticism echoed by some of the noise regulation's early proponents in the European Parliament.

"Europe's gone the wrong way on aircraft noise," said John Stewart, chairman of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, or HACAN. "Until there is a definite target to be met, and a date by which that target has to be met, and legal limits, there really is very little incentive for airports or national governments to significantly reduce noise."

"They [Brussels decision-makers] certainly allowed themselves to be unduly influenced by the consistent and constant pressure that there was by the aviation industry," Stewart said in a telephone interview, though he conceded that "you can't set a tough target over night".

A bigger, quieter, Heathrow?
Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd., an international consortium that runs the airport, wants it to become even bigger. But past growth plans have been grounded by civil and political opposition. In response to pressure both at home and from the European Commission, Heathrow has adopted a "balanced approach" to reduce its environmental impact. The airport fines airlines using noisy planes; 'names and shames' carriers in a quarterly ranking of their noise impact; and sets some limits on nighttime flying. Its Noise Action Plan offers a home insulation scheme for eligible residents, and today's Heathrow managers are credited with being more receptive to community concerns that in the past.

In May, Heathrow presented a revised plan for a long-sought third landing strip with a promise to gradually slash noise to the lowest levels in 40 years. The proposal is now being reviewed by the Airports Commission. Supporters say the need for a new runway is vital to economic development, meeting 21st century demands for flying, and accommodating big aircraft. It would be the second runway capable of handling transcontinental jetliners built in the United Kingdom since the Second World War, according to Britain's Civil Aviation Authority, a regulatory body.

"We have worked closely with local residents, listened to their concerns and improved our plans," John Holland-Kaye, the airport's new chief executive, said in announcing the "improved expansion proposals" on May 13.

In another bid to clinch approval for a bigger Heathrow, two leading business groups, London First and Let Britain Fly, have called for creating an airport noise ombudsman with the power to arbitrate disputes. The proposal gained political muscle in June, when 34 members of the House of Commons, led by Labour MP David Lammy, backed the ombudsman for Heathrow.

If the ombudsman proposal takes hold, it would a notable exception in the EU's 28 states - and possible model for others to follow. Only France has a similar intermediary for its biggest airfields - the Autorite de Controle des Nuisances Aeroportuaires.

"An independent ombudsman would make sure that all airlines fulfill their obligations. It would give local communities the assurance that someone is looking out for them and policy makers a source of objective information on which to make their decisions," Baroness Jo Valentine, who heads London First, said in advocating an ombudsman last November in a bid to find a compromise in the Heathrow expansion debate.

Civic groups support noise czar
Hacan's chairman concedes that both the airport and its supporters are becoming more sensitive to civic concerns. "There are people within Heathrow who are genuinely trying to find ways of reducing the impact of noise and reducing the impact of the aircraft," said Stewart, who lives on the flightpath to Heathrow. While supporting the move to create an independent noise czar, Stewart does not see it as the end game. He points to the lack of agreement on how many people are directly affected by Heathrow's clamour. European Commission figures put the number at 725,000, while the airport uses the more modest estimate of 275,000.

He also fears that the ombudsman could provide cover for a third runway at Heathrow at a time when the Airports Commission is weighing the airport's expansion plans ahead of a final recommendation that is expected next year. "I am not under any allusions why they are listening to us more. It's because they desperately want to get a third runway in place, and the last time round they tried, they antagonised everybody. This time, they've got to try to be seen as taking on board our concerns about noise," Stewart said.

Hacan also insists on being an equal partner in any discussions about creating a noise czar. "We are not just coming on board as a passenger in the back seat, who puts up his hand every now and then because he wants to go to the toilet," Stewart said.


Being woken up regularly during the night can leave parents and on-call workers feeling as sleep deprived as if they had only four hours rest a night

Sarah Knapton, Science Correspondent - Daily Telegraph - 9 July 2014

It will come as no surprise to new parents struggling after a night of feeds or doctors on call, but being woken up in the night is as detrimental as getting just four hours of sleep. Researchers discovered that being pulled from a deep slumber by a crying baby or a frantic emergency call, causes the same confusion, depression and fatigue as being severely sleep-deprived.

It means that even when people get a total of seven hours sleep a night, being forced to wake up for regular 15 minute feeds, or consultations, will leave them feeling like they had just four hours rest.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences warn that it is likely to leave parents feeling bewildered, dejected and exhausted and effect on-call professionals like doctors or fire-fighters, impacting decision making and attention spans.

"The sleep of many parents is often disrupted by external sources such as a crying baby demanding care during the night," said Professor Avi Sadeh and a team of researchers from Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences. "Doctors on call, who may receive several phone calls a night, also experience disruptions. These night wakings could be relatively short - only five to ten minutes - but they disrupt the natural sleep rhythm. The impact of such night wakings on an individual's daytime alertness, mood, and cognitive abilities had never been studied. Our study is the first to demonstrate seriously deleterious cognitive and emotional effects."

The team studied 61 adults who were monitored at home using wrist-watch like devices which detected when they were asleep and when awake. The volunteers slept a normal eight-hour night, then experienced a night in which they were awakened four times by phone calls every 90 minutes and not allowed to go back to sleep for 15 minutes. The students were asked each following morning to complete certain computer tasks to assess alertness and attention, as well as to fill out questionnaires to determine their mood.

The experiment showed a direct link between disrupted sleep and poor attention spans and negative mood after only one night of frequent interruptions. The volunteers were found to be on average 24 per cent more confused, 29 per cent more depressed and 43 per cent more fatigued. A second experiment where volunteers were only allowed to sleep for four hours, showed similar results, suggesting regular night disruption has the same impact as only getting half the recommend eight hours of sleep.

"Our study shows the impact of only one disrupted night," said Prof. Sadeh. "But we know that these effects accumulate and therefore the functional price new parents-who awaken three to ten times a night for months on end-pay for common infant sleep disturbance is enormous. Besides the physical effects of interrupted sleep, parents often develop feelings of anger toward their infants and then feel guilty about these negative feelings."

Prof Sadeh is currently researching interventions for infant sleep disturbances to reduce the detrimental effects of disrupted sleep on parents. The team also hopes their findings will encourage employers to look again at shiftwork and staff being placed "on-call". Co-author Michal Kahn added: "Our findings bear relevance to substantial portions of the population whose sleep is regularly fragmented including medical students, shift workers, military personnel and parents. Professionals as well as the general public should be aware of the detrimental effects of the various kinds of disruption in sleep on daily functioning and mood and consider countermeasures to minimise their consequences."

The study was published in the journal Sleep Medicine.


Newswire Online - Royston, Herts - 2 July 2014

One of the United Kingdom's largest airport operators, Manchester Airports Group Plc (M.A.G.), has expanded its noise management capabilities with a new Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System (ANOMS 9) from Bruel & Kjaer.

ANOMS 9 enables M.A.G. to monitor and report on noise and operations at multiple airports, including London Stansted, Bournemouth, East Midlands and Manchester, with a single system. The four airports serve around 43 million passengers every year and are an important part of the local economy.

The airports will also receive WebTrak and WebTrak MyNeighbourhood; part of a suite of web-based applications that assist airports in building good community relationships. WebTrak enables local residents to self-investigate recent noise and flight tracks, whilst WebTrak MyNeighbourhood illustrates typical operating scenarios. The WebTrak sites enables users to find answers to frequently asked questions, such as: ?How loud and low was that plane?? or ?How many flights pass over my house in a single day??.

Additional noise monitoring terminals (NMTs) will be deployed at Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth. NMTs continuously monitor the environment for noise events, which are defined as noise that remains above a certain level for a prescribed period of time. These noise events are correlated with flight information and enable the airport to demonstrate compliance with regulations, respond to community enquiries, address noise issues with airlines, adjust operating procedures to limit noise impact and carry out measurements to improve their noise maps.

"Through a recent tender process we examined new offerings from Brel & Kjr and other companies, before finally deciding that Brel & Kjr's ANOMS 9 solution and new Type 3639 NMTs met all our needs," said Dr. Tim Walmsley, Environment Manager at Manchester Airport.

"We are extremely pleased to continue our 20 year association with M.A.G.," said Kent Espersen, European Sales Operations Manager for Brel & Kjr. "We're also thrilled to be able to offer M.A.G. our brand new ANOMS 9 platform and state-of-the-art noise monitoring terminals at the start of this new era."

More information about Brel & Kjr's airport tools is available on the company's website.


Gavin Lipsith - Moodiereport Online - 15 July 2014

Stansted airport will welcome new outlets from World Duty Free Group, WHSmith and Dixons Travel later this month, as it opens the first phase of its departure hall transformation.

The renewed international Departures facility will be opening in phases from 18 July. The passenger journey will take travellers through a new 3,000sq m walkthrough store from World Duty Free Group - the retailer's biggest groupwide - at the entrance to the lounge, followed by essential travel shopping (including high-end retail) and into a dedicated F&B area, as reported previously.

Other outlets to join the offer in the next two weeks include a brand new store concept from convenience retailer WHSmith - designed to minimise queuing and payment times - and a Dixons Travel outlet with a Knowhow bar offering expert advice and a branded Apple area.

Further retailers will be added in the coming weeks, including one of the biggest Boots stores in any UK airport. Luxury home and cosmetics brand Rituals will double its space, while JS Sports will offer a King of Trainers section, with the widest range of sports shoes at any UK airport.

Outlets from The Body Shop, Glorious Britain and Fat Face will also feature in the new space. A further 16 retail outlets - covering fashion, shoes, accessories and luxury goods - will be added after an imminent tender is completed.

Flight information screens are being installed in all retail units and at regular intervals along the main public areas so that passengers can easily check the status of their flights. Other features of the new departures hall include Escape Lounge, open to all passengers on a paid basis, free wireless internet access and more seating and charging points.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) Retail Director Beth Brewster said: "MAG has a clear ambition to not only improve services and facilities at Stansted but to make it the best airport in London and I'm very proud to see the major step changes coming to life. Stansted has a very exciting future. We've already announced the line-up of cafs, bars and restaurants that will sit together in a dedicated area and are about to go out to tender to fill the remaining retail units scheduled to open next year."

OUR COMMENT: No longer the "airport in the country", now to be the "shopping centre in the country - watch the planes while you shop!" Why not charge no fly visitors and create a viewing centre?

Pat Dale


Andrew Bounds, North of England Correspondent - Financial Times - 15 July 2014

London's Stansted airport is growing by 10 per cent after heavy investment, its new owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) said on Tuesday.

Announcing increased revenues and passenger numbers across the business, the UK's second largest operator said the Essex airport contributed 18m passengers, 245.1m revenue and 88.9m before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation in the year to March 31 2014. Excluding Stansted, revenue in the year to March grew by 33m (8.4 per cent) to 426.1m, and operating profit before significant items was 83.9m - 11.4 per cent up.

"Stansted has performed 6m better than our business plan," said Mr Thompson. "It is only 50 per cent full. We believe we can unlock its potential."

MAG bought Stansted in February 2013 to add to Manchester, the UK's largest airport outside the southeast, East Midlands and Bournemouth. Stansted passenger numbers had increased by just 500,000 in the year to March but grew 10 per cent in the next quarter, said Neil Thompson, chief financial officer of MAG.

Mr Thompson said Stansted had been neglected by its former owner, since it also held Heathrow and Gatwick. He said it had scope to expand. "Its previous owner had no incentive to develop it. We can incentivise growth and fund new routes. It can compete with Heathrow and Gatwick because we can offer lower prices."

MAG, which is owned 65.5 per cent by 10 Greater Manchester councils and 35.5 per cent by IFM Investors of Australia, has signed a 10-year agreement with Ryanair, which provides the bulk of Stansted passengers. Thomas Cook is also starting long-haul flights to the US and Caribbean from Manchester and Stansted.

MAG successfully lobbied for the CAA to end the regulation of fares at Stansted, arguing that the airport did not have a dominant market position, saving 1m annually of management time.

The Davies review of air capacity rejected a second runway at Stansted before 2030 in the short term as one of its options to deal with growth in the southeast aviation market in its interim report. However, it backed improving the rail link to reduce the time to London from 47 minutes to 30.

The airport group handled a total of 43.8m passengers, with Manchester contributing almost 21m, an increase of 1m - or more than 8 per cent year-on-year. Passenger numbers were static at Bournemouth, but cost cuts restored the operation to profit. East Midlands gained from strong passenger and freight growth as the economy recovered.

MAG has invested 80m in a Stansted terminal out of a total 135.46m in capital expenditure. Its net debt was 1.2bn and interest costs were up from 31.1m to 59.6m. The annual dividend grew by 4m to 46m.


Aimee Turner - AirTrafficManagement Online - 3 July 2014

UK's air traffic control NATS and the Association of European Airlines (AEA) have entered into a strategic partnership to drive the Single European Sky (SES) vision and deliver extra savings for airlines in Europe.

The partners said this agreement lays the foundations for future work that will consider how Europe's airspace could be better managed to cope with forecast growth in air traffic, whilst at the same time reducing costs. "It also offers the opportunity to develop a shared understanding and common positions on the institutional and regulatory environment that could best deliver the objectives of SES," they said.

They argue that the challenges faced by European aviation - the need to safely manage increasingly complex airspace, whilst at the same time delivering cost savings and improving environmental performance - necessitate greater cooperation across the industry.

AEA brings together 30 of Europe's major airlines and has been the voice of the European airline industry for over 50 years. Richard Deakin, chief executive officer of NATS, commented: "We're delighted to have entered into this partnership with AEA. We think it's vital that we, as air traffic service providers, recognise that airlines are our customers and put them at the heart of everything we do. Partnering with AEA will bring us even closer to our customers and we believe will help us find new ways to make Europe's airspace work better for all of us. I'm delighted AEA see NATS as a progressive ANSP and is keen to work with us."

"The realisation of the Single European Sky and the improvement of the current European air traffic control system is a top priority for the Association of European Airlines and its members", says Athar Husain Khan, CEO of the Association of European Airlines. "We look forward to work together with NATS on this and many other projects of common interest."


Jim Dunton - Flightglobal Online - 4 July 2014

Falling connectivity between the UK's regional airports and Heathrow is threatening local economies and the nation's global competitiveness, according to new report from public policy think-tank the Smith Institute.

The collection of essays from airline and development specialists spotlights a "sharp decline" in domestic connections to the international hub against a backdrop of focus on profit from long-haul routes, and warns that the situation will get worse without "extra strategy and connectivity" for regional airports.

Making global connections: The potential of the UK's regional airports, which is due to be submitted to the government's Airports Commission on runway capacity, says the number of UK regional airports with direct flights to Heathrow has fallen from 26 to six in recent years - half the number of airports such as Amsterdam and Paris. As well as calling for increased hub connectivity in the South East, the report suggests that regional airports could benefit from revisions to current planning law.

Contributor Jon Riley, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, said the current planning system "weighed against regional airports" and suggested tweaking eligibility criteria for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) fast-track status. He said that while the National Planning Policy Framework recognised the role of airports in serving business, it did not go far enough in recognising the contribution regional airports made to their respective local economies and the benefits of the NSIP planning route were unlikely to be felt by developments at regional airports.

"The construction or improvement of an airport cannot be an NSIP unless it will deliver 10 million passengers per annum or at least 10,000 air transport movements of cargo aircraft," he said. "Ten million is a lot of passengers. Only a project delivering a new runway in the South East is likely to hit that threshold. Birmingham would need to double in size to qualify. Manchester would probably need to build another runway."

"Cardiff, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle and Newquay are not of a size that would target that scale of growth. Yet they are undoubtedly - individually and taken together - nationally significant for connecting Wales, Cornwall, Yorkshire and the North East."

Riley said that an approach that altered thresholds for NSIP status would make investment in areas near regional airports more attractive, boosting passenger growth, freight handling, and the number of companies choosing to relocate to such areas.

Smith institute director Paul Hackett said that after gaining strength in the 1990s, regional airports were facing decline and needed assistance to combat the situation. He asked: "Can we afford to witness a diminution of regional connectivity at a time when regional imbalances are worsening? And if not, then what actions should government take to support the UK?s regional airports?"

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